17: Flight to Safety

17: Flight to Safety

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Flight to Safety

God provides the wind, but man must raise the sails.

~St. Augustine

I nearly fainted after the airline clerk looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry. There is a problem with your tickets.”

My mother had arrived in Germany from the States for a visit, and now my children and I were flying home with her before my husband found out. I gathered my composure before the clerk apologized for giving me such a fright. She explained, “You and your children can fly as scheduled, but you cannot be on the same flight as your mother because it is already full.” At last, thankful and relieved, I held our three tickets securely in my hands.

A friend who worked in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s office had warned me, “Abusers get worse, not better, and I urge you to leave your husband as soon as possible.” I began making plans that day to leave Germany, where we had lived for two years.

“Daddy does mean things to Mommy,” my two youngsters told their visiting grandmother when they stayed in her room. After my husband left the house for work, Mother questioned me at breakfast. Relieved, finally, to tell the truth, I no longer covered up his cruel, abusive bullying.

She stayed with the children while I drove for one last appointment in the Army’s dermatology clinic. During the nine months I sought relief for a strange skin condition, I never saw the same doctor twice. The skin on my hands sloughed off in sheets. The different doctors who saw me during those months prescribed steroid creams and bandages. However, this doctor looked back through all my records of treatments and noticed that my condition was worsening. He looked at me and said, “You must make a very hard emotional decision if you want to overcome this.”

Without telling the doctor about my marriage situation, I resolved to follow through with my plan to start a new life. I felt sure that God had spoken through this doctor. The handwriting on the walls of my heart flashed in neon letters, YOU NEED TO LEAVE YOUR TORMENTOR.

If my husband suspected we would not return from the States, I feared he would keep the children with him. Finally, I told him this truth: “The children and I will visit with your parents and other family members while we’re in the States.” That satisfied him and he agreed that was a good idea. The following day, I taped a large cardboard box together and began filling it with the children’s clothes. Underneath their duds, I put in my family silver, the only valuable thing I packed.

My husband drove us to the Frankfurt airport many miles from our house. After we arrived, hugs were exchanged, and then my children and I walked onto our plane. My legs trembled as we boarded and located our seats. My mother’s plane left about thirty minutes later. The children were excited about the airplane trip, but soon went to sleep.

Nine hours later, we arrived in New York, connected with Mother, and then caught our plane to New Orleans. I rented a car and drove to her place in Baton Rouge. With the time change and hours of travel, I had been awake more than twenty-four hours. We all slept soundly. When we awoke, it was the Fourth of July, and the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy starring Jimmy Cagney was on television. Later, festivities celebrating America’s birthday were televised on PBS. My daughter, six and a half, and my son, five, were the perfect ages to squeal with delight over the fireworks. Jet lag captured us again, and we enjoyed more restorative slumber the second night home.

Mother returned to work the following week. I made phone calls and learned that it takes a minimum of a year to obtain a divorce in Louisiana. After I telephoned my sister Bobbie, she urged me, “Come to Houston. Your kids will attend John’s school. Think of the fun those three kids can have.” She added, “A divorce in Texas doesn’t take as long as in Louisiana.”

Before we left Baton Rouge, the children and I went to see their paternal grandparents. The promised visit with my husband’s parents was fulfilled. Everyone exhibited good spirits when we said goodbye with hugs and kisses.

I prayerfully considered our situation a couple of days before I bought three tickets for our Greyhound bus ride to Texas. The trip seemed like an exciting adventure to the children. Bobbie and her six-year-old son met us at the bus depot in downtown Houston. My kids jumped up and down when they saw their cousin John. I felt bolstered by Bobbie’s practical nature as we drove back to their house in Houston.

My kids enjoyed a slumber party in the carpeted living room with John and his two older siblings. I fell into a restful sleep in the guest room. The following morning, my sister suggested that I talk to a friend of hers, an attorney. I agreed. She made the appointment and drove me to his office. She assured me, “This lawyer and his wife have been our friends for years. He will give you good legal advice.”

He outlined the steps necessary to file for divorce in Texas. Before we left, he asked me, “Would you consider taking a job here as my secretary?”

I hesitated a little and then agreed. I thought, Since I haven’t worked in a while, the fast typing skills I learned in high school will be useful after all.

Next, Bobbie and her husband contacted friends who had a car for sale. After I bought it, the kids and I named it Gray Goose. A day later, my dear sister contacted a woman who owned a house for rent, which we viewed. I paid the first month’s rent when I signed the lease, delighted to hear the school bus stopped in front of the house.

Next, I composed a letter to my husband’s commanding officer in Germany. I explained our situation. I asked him to order the release of our household furniture stored with the Army in San Antonio before we moved to Germany. A few days after we moved into the rented house, the furniture arrived. By the time school began in August, the children had three new playmates living across the street. Their mother kept my two after school to play with her children until I returned home from work.

The bravest thing I ever undertook was to move forward with the escape plan. Once I made up my mind, it was the most significant day of my life. A week after we arrived at my sister’s house, I awoke one morning and noticed something I hadn’t seen in a long time: my hands were miraculously cured, with new, smooth skin.

~B.B. Loyd

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